Dr PM Murali, president of ABLE and MD of Evolva Biotech, Bangalore
I started writing this article on the sombre day of Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary. Some of us have been less fortunate to be born several years after the era of Gandhiji but our travels far and wide have made us proud, when we learn that he has been a leader of all leaders, a world ratna (jewel).
But what is the context that I am invoking Gandhiji in an article which is to touch on the future of biotechnology in India?
It is on account of Quit India, the greatest movement that he began that made life untenable for the occupiers to do business in India.
Alas, today our policy makers and bureaucrats have reinvented the Quit India movement to ensure manufacturing, capital, and man power quit India and the biotech business does not grow.
We honored actor Kamal Hasan with Padma Vibhushan recently only after it was virtually untenable for him to work in India and he almost came to quitting the country.
We make a home-grown, iconic biotech CEO like Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw to issue an ultimatum to our administrators that she would quit manufacturing biotech medicines in India if she is not provided the environment.
So as a nation we are not aiding these celebrated Indians to grow and aid the growth of other fellow Indians around them.
We were happy to throw Pepsi out in 1977 and then feel elated when India-born Ms Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi became its CEO. We provided no canvass when intellectuals quit India like Dr S Chandrasekhar and Prof. Amartya Sen.
We noticed them only after the world recognized them. What message are we sending to the rest of the world-that we do not recognize merit and we aid people quitting the country?
In my opinion the time has come that even if we run we will appear to be standing still in the view of rest of the world.
We seem to be making it a habit to miss opportunities to grow and move to leadership position. Our executers of planning have brought our country to the current sorry state.
The question that is haunting me as the President of ABLE (Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises) is does anybody really care? As Indians we are happy that we have to expend so much of energy on futile tasks which is a given in most of the East Asian countries.
How can we pride in ourselves when we frustrate even the most stout-hearted optimist who means well for the country? So the question that is begging an answer is: have our bureaucrats and government created the most conducive environment for excellence to quit our country?
If so what are we then left with for the future?